“Life and Death” by Stephenie Meyer: “Twilight” Perfected

“Life and Death” by Stephenie Meyer: “Twilight” Perfected

This is how “Twilight” should have been written in the first place.

*** SPOILER ALERT AT PART 3 BELOW ***

PART 1 – THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN

While the Twilight series is original, at its core, it is a Cinderella story: average character suffering a mundane life (or worse) finds out that he/she’s actually something special.

In Cinderella, she’s something special to that special guy; a love story. And in Twilight, Bella is special to Edward, in a big way. I enjoyed that book, but I must admit, as a guy, I pretty much gagged my way through what I thought were sappy passaged about just how beautiful and perfect Edward was. I flipped through those parts to get to the meat of the story, and after I was done, well … I can say I liked the story well enough to read the rest of the books, and of course, watch the movies. But I can also promise you that I didn’t daydream about the Edward/Bella story or loose sleep staying up late, reading Twilight for the 100th time. (Yes, I’ve found at least one review posted claiming just that.)

Now that I’ve read Life and Death, I have no judgment for those ladies who were sucked in by Twilight (and still are). How easy it is for my high school self of the past to identify with Beau, feeling out of place and insecure at that time, and just what a wicked fantasy it is to think that some awesome creature like Edythe could take such an interest … Well, you know the story. It’s pretty much everyone’s fantasy – the Cinderella story.

Except not many such stories get written with the guy being Cinderella, particularly in a love interest setting. Sure, there’s Harry Potter, and there’s other very successful series like the Matrix. (Yes, those are Cinderella stories – basically – Neo as it turns out is the savior of the world, not an average techie nerd, and Harry isn’t just a dejected orphan, he’s actually a famous wizard in another cool world.) But most of those stories (none that I can think of) are not love stories.

Enter Edythe and Beau. What a refreshing surprise! I must say that I picked this book up on a whim. It sat around for weeks before cracking it open, and I was instantly hooked. Recall that the introduction of Edythe (like Edward) occurs quickly, along with her saving Beau from a mortal accident, which is the strongest first hook of the story to keep the reader going.

Wow, I was a little shocked at just how susceptible I was to this kind of love story. I was also very refreshed, particularly after reading it three times in a row. And this leads me to the most important point (HELLO STEPHENIE MEYER! PAY ATTENTION HERE!) In my view, this story should have been written this way in the first place, or at least, LIFE AND DEATH DESERVES TO STAND ON ITS OWN, INCLUDING ITS OWN SAGA OF SUBSEQUENT BOOKS.

PART 2 – LIFE AND DEATH DESERVSE TO STAND ALONE AS AN UNPRECEDENTED STORY

Why? It’s unique and speaks directly to an otherwise ignored audience of guys.

I’m a little annoyed by Meyer’s Foreword, where she pretty much says she wrote this book because she just wanted to test a “theory” about whether the Twilight story would have been pretty much the same if the genders were swapped. She writes about how much fun it was to reimagine the story, return to Forks, and so on.

I think Edythe would say something to that like, ‘Stephenie, you’re being an idiot!’

Life and Death is not the “same story” as Twilight by a long shot, especially if the reader is a male. For me, and I’m sure many other guys who might admit to reading this, Life and Death is night and day different from Twilight; it speaks directly to the male reader in a way that few, if any, other books ever have. Don’t think for a second that Twilight speaks to most guys in the same way. So own up to the stand-alone-staying power of this book and treat it with the respect it deserves; otherwise, the author risks overlooking what made Twilight important in the first place. Life and Death speaks directly to many readers inner most dreams. Stephenie – ask yourself, ‘How many other books out there have written a powerful Cinderella story for guys?’ Few I’m aware of, and few with the strength of this one.

Don’t think for a minute that just any pulp fiction romance would appeal to men either. Life and Death is especially important because it includes other elements that keep most guys reading – vampires, mystery, and historical intrigue – but for guys, those elements just give this love story a turbo boost (and maybe a rationalization for why they continue to read a romance). Life and Death is an unprecedented, powerful, heart wrenching, love story. Which brings me to the most important point – it deserves its own respect, a series of books and movies.

It is also VERY important to observe that Meyer fixed several fundamental defects in “Twilight,” essentially re-writing the story while also repairing some fundamental story, editorial, and character flaws. “Twilight,” while important, will never be as good as “Life and Death,” which is a re-do, a prefection, of Meyer’s initial effort.

PART 3 – WRITE MORE ABOUT EDYTHE AND BEAU

I was so annoyed by the abrupt ending of Life and Death. In light of Meyer’s Afterword, she leaves the distinct impression that Edythe and Beau’s story ends here. Please say it ain’t so.

Again, since Life and Death stands on its own, since it is dramatically more unique than Twilight, it deserves its own respect, meaning it gets its own line of story. Even if the story takes a dramatically different turns.

I wonder whether Meyer (probably her publisher) feels like she’d be belittling herself, and street cred, if she continued with Edythe and Beau. ‘Some readers might feel cheated,’ she might think, and others might accuse her of just cashing in. But again, that’s wrong, for the reasons stated above. In any event, any subsequent books obviously will not follow the same path as the Twilight saga.

One of the biggest reasons Meyer should write more stories is so I don’t have to go through my old copies of the Twilight saga and mark out the words “Edward” and “Bella” and replace them with “Edythe” and “Beau,” and so on with other character names. (And I will do that if I have to.) Of course, I’d have to just mark out some large sections of some books, but as I see it, the absence of Renesme (or however it’s spelled) would not be a bad thing.

As one might guess, I was not happy with the end of Life and Death. The way Meyer just abruptly turned Beau into a vampire, and quickly glosses over the back stories of the other characters, belittles the value of the story, and it was also upsetting to get the impression that she currently has no intention of writing more about Edythe and Beau. (Emphasize “currently.” We’re hoping she changes her mind!)

All this venting aside, I actually thought it made perfect sense that the entire story and ending could be changed by the fact that Beau escaped from Archie and Jess minutes sooner than Bella escaped from Alice and Jasper, and thus, by doing so, changed the ending. That’s pretty consistent with what Alice/Archie always maintained: that the future is not set. There are always multiple outcomes, some more likely than others.

Hopefully, Stephenie Meyer will reflect on the strength meaning of Life and Death, that she will see that it is a groundbreaking effort, not just superfluous “anniversary” material to Twilight. Now that she’s taken the story in a dramatically different direction — with different characters and a different ending – please do the right thing and breathe new life and love into Edythe and Beau.

Austin Reams
Copyright (c) 2016 Austin Reams, all rights reserved.

2 Comments

  • Jan Grose Martindale Posted August 3, 2016 3:42 pm

    I liked your review/extrapolations on “Life & Death”, agreed wholeheartedly about the ending. But, what TwiHard/TwiHeart readers truly want, is the continuation & publishing of “Midnight Sun” , which is what we were all praying for, & failed to appear. If the writer reads the comments about the gender-swapped version upon media announcements, the majority are exactly & vociferously expressing, “Why not finish “Midnight Sun”? SM’s reasoning of not having time was unaminously disagreed with, after all ten years have elapsed in which it could have been written!

    • admin Posted October 10, 2016 10:18 pm

      I agree she should finish Midnight Sun. With Edythe Cullen.

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